Posted on December 20, 2023

Cell phones have become our constant companions, keeping us connected, entertained, and informed. But how long do these devices last, and when is it time to upgrade? Let’s explore the intricacies of cell phone longevity to determine when is the best time to upgrade your phone.

How Long Do Cell Phones Last?

The average lifespan of a cell phone is a subject of varied opinions. While many sources estimate the average usage of smartphones to be about 2.5 years, others suggest that for newer-generation devices, this could be as short as 15-18 months. 

However, a more nuanced view emerges when considering the phone brand. Generally, more prominent brands like iPhone and Samsung tend to have longer lifespans than smaller brands.

Here’s a closer look at the average mobile life expectancy by brand:

  • iPhone: four to 10 years
  • Samsung: three to six years
  • Huawei: two to four years
  • Xiaomi: two to four years
  • Oppo: two to three years

Despite these general lifespans, it’s important to note that the longevity of a smartphone can be extended with proper care and maintenance. Some devices may even surpass five years of use if handled gently.

However, around the three-year mark, many users notice a decline in their phones’ performance. That is often when the hardware becomes outdated, and the phone no longer receives new operating system updates from developers. 

Such changes can lead to difficulties installing new applications and a noticeable decrease in battery life. Many people consider replacing their devices when these issues become apparent, along with the inability to install new apps and a waning battery.

How Often Do People Get New Phones?

The allure of technological advancements and lifestyle preferences drives the trend of regularly upgrading cell phones. On average, individuals replace their phones every 2-3 years, a decision influenced by practical benefits and personal desires. A common question is, how long should you have a phone before getting a new one; this can vary based on how well the current phone meets your needs and keeps up with technological advancements.

Upgrading offers access to the latest features and apps, ensuring compatibility with the newest software and enhancing the overall user experience. Newer phone models boast improved battery life, thanks to larger, more efficient systems extending device usage throughout the day. 

For photography enthusiasts, upgraded models typically provide better camera quality, capturing moments with greater clarity and detail. One of the reasons to get a new phone can be the desire for improved camera capabilities, especially for those who value photography.

Enhanced security is another significant advantage, as newer phones often come equipped with updated security protocols, offering better protection against threats like viruses and malware. Additionally, upgraded phones feature faster processor speeds, ensuring a smoother, more efficient multitasking experience without lags or stutters.

Balancing these benefits against cost considerations is crucial. The upfront cost of a new, high-end model can be substantial, but persisting with an older phone for too long may lead to inefficiencies and a diminished ability to handle updates or run apps effectively. 

Therefore, the decision to upgrade should factor in both immediate and future costs. Personal preference and budget play a significant role in this choice. Some might prioritize having the latest technology and opt for more frequent upgrades, while others may prefer the economical route of using an older model for a more extended period. 

Ultimately, the decision hinges on balancing embracing new technology and adhering to individual financial constraints and lifestyle needs.

What Affects a Phone’s Lifespan?

Several factors contribute to the overall lifespan of a cell phone, including physical damage, battery health, hardware obsolescence, and compatibility with operating system updates. Understanding these factors can help you maximize the life of your device. One question many users have is how long does a cell phone last, and this largely depends on the following factors.

Wear and Tear

Physical damage, such as drops and cracks, significantly impacts a phone’s lifespan. While minor damage might not drastically affect functionality, severe damage can lead to significant issues. Extensive cracking, especially with non-functional components, often necessitates a new phone rather than repair. Protective measures and careful handling can mitigate these risks. A common inquiry among users is when is the best time to upgrade your phone, especially when facing significant wear and tear.

Phone Model

Regarding how often should you upgrade your phone, it can depend heavily on the model of your phone, as it plays a crucial role in its longevity. High-end models typically offer extended support for software updates and are built with better-quality materials, making them more durable. In contrast, low-end or secondhand phones may have a shorter lifespan, especially if they are already outdated at the time of purchase.

Quality of Hardware

If you’re considering how often should you replace your phone, this largely depends on the quality of the phone’s hardware. Battery health is a critical factor in a phone’s longevity. Most batteries are designed for 300-500 charge cycles, roughly translating to 16 months of usage. 

As the battery ages, it may hold less charge, affecting its performance. Easily replaceable batteries can extend a phone’s life. Additionally, hardware demands vary based on usage; mobile gamers may need to upgrade more frequently than casual users.

Extreme Weather

Extreme weather conditions can also affect a phone’s functionality and lifespan. Exposure to intense heat or cold can strain the battery and internal components. Avoiding such situations and using protective cases can help maintain the phone’s optimal performance over time. Weather conditions should also be considered when wondering how long should a cell phone last.

When is the Best Time to Upgrade Your Phone?

Recognizing the signs that it’s time to upgrade your phone is essential for staying up-to-date with technology and ensuring a smooth, efficient user experience. 

As our phones become an integral part of our daily lives, keeping an eye on their performance and functionality becomes increasingly important. Issues like sluggish response times, frequent app crashes, or a battery that drains too quickly can indicate that your device is no longer performing at its best. 

Additionally, if your phone no longer receives critical software updates or struggles with the latest apps and features, it might be time to consider an upgrade. Staying aware of these signs helps you decide when to invest in a new device, balancing your needs and technological advancements.

Out of Date for Software Updates

If your phone no longer receives software updates, including critical security patches, the manufacturer has ceased supporting that model. This lack of updates can leave your phone vulnerable to cyber-attacks and may render it incompatible with new features and applications. When is it time to get a new phone? It’s worth considering if your current device is no longer supported with updates.

Slow Processing Speed

A noticeable decline in processing speed is a clear sign your phone may be nearing the end of its lifespan. You may notice apps taking longer to open or touches being slower to register. This slowdown can be exacerbated by new versions of Android or iOS, which place greater demands on your phone’s resources. If your device struggles to run resource-intensive apps or games smoothly, it might be time to upgrade. 

Extensively Damaged

Physical damage, like a broken screen or malfunctioning buttons, can significantly impair your phone’s usability. Natural wear and tear, such as damage from water exposure or failing internal components, also contribute to an early decline. If your phone shows significant signs of damage or wear, it may be more cost-effective to replace it rather than repair it.

Reduced Battery Life

If your phone’s battery depletes quickly and fails to retain its charge, it’s a telltale sign of battery degradation. That can be due to the lithium-ion composition of batteries, which decline over time and after several hundred recharge cycles. While replacing the battery is an option, sometimes upgrading to a new phone might be a better solution.

Inadequate Storage

If you’re constantly running out of storage, especially in older models with limited internal space, it’s a sign to upgrade. Modern apps, high-resolution photos, and graphically intense games require more storage space, which older phones may not provide. Upgrading to a newer model with more storage can ensure your phone meets your daily digital needs.

Sign Up for a Free Government Phone with Assist Wireless

At Assist Wireless, we’re proud to be a Lifeline ETC (Eligible Telecommunications Carrier) dedicated to connecting communities and empowering lives. We understand the importance of staying connected, so we offer Lifeline phone service to individuals who are part of government-approved programs or have incomes at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines. 

Our mission is to bridge the communication gap for low-income and disadvantaged consumers. The Lifeline Assistance program, supported by the Universal Service Fund, provides qualifying Americans free or subsidized phone service. Assist Wireless takes the initiative one step further by providing the cell phones ourselves, ensuring that our customers have both the service and the means to stay connected. 

It’s important to note that this benefit is available for one phone line per household, maximizing our reach to those who need it most. Whether you need a free government phone in Missouri or any other state, contact us today to see if you qualify at Assist Wireless and get connected!

Lifeline Program

Due to sharing many of the same eligibility requirements those currently enrolled in the lifeline program may qualify for The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) also.

Medicaid / Medi-Cal

Program Approval Letter, Benefit Statement, or Verification of Coverage Letter, should contain the following basic information:

  • Name of the program or state equivalent,
  • Name of the beneficiary,
  • Address of the beneficiary, and
  • Date of the award


Eligibility Screenshot or printout from an online portal or website tool, should contain the following basic information:

  • Name of the program or state equivalent,
  • Name of the beneficiary
  • Medical Identification number, OR
  • Case number,
  • Eligibility dates, OR
  • Current participation status

Federal Veterans Affairs (VA) Veterans & Survivors Pension Benefit

Pension Grant Letter, should contain the following basic information:

  • Participant’s name
  • Address
  • A decision about the participant’s monthly entitlement amount
  • Payment start date

Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)

FPHA award letter, should contain the following basic information:

  • Name of the program,
  • Date of the award,
  • Name of the beneficiary, and
  • Award amount.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Approval Letter or Benefit Statement issued by the SSA, or on SSA letterhead.

  • Consumer’s name
  • Date
  • Eligibility Date
  • Claim number OR Other consumer identification number
  • Payment amount

SNAP / Food Stamps / CalFresh

Program Approval Letter, Benefit Statement, or Verification of Coverage Letter, should contain the following basic information:

  • Name of the program,
  • Name of the beneficiary,
  • Eligibility dates, OR
  • Current participation status


Eligibility Screenshot or printout from an online portal or website tool, should contain the following basic information:

  • Name of the program or state equivalent,
  • Name of the beneficiary,
  • Case number,
  • Eligibility dates, OR
  • Current participation status